“I’m quick to demand high standards of my cadets. It’s kind of hypocritical if I don’t put out my best,” said Reyes, an instructor in Augusta State University’s military science department, who was named Cadet Command NCO of the Year at Fort Knox last month.
He competed against other NCOs from other Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs across the country.
“I didn’t expect to win, but I put my best foot forward and took it one event at a time,” he said.
He arrived at Fort Knox on March 26 for a week of rigorous tests, including physical fitness, marksman and land navigation. There were essays to complete in addition to written exams and an oral Army board.
Reyes said the hardest part was the Army board.
“At least you know what to expect on the PT test. With a board, it’s all you know about the subject, and you have no idea what questions are going to be asked,” he said.
Reyes, who was the Jaguar battalion NCO of the year, had been studying for the board, so he felt he was well-prepared. One of his study partners is his wife, Andrea, who is a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, S.C.
A 14-year Army veteran, Reyes joined after completing the National Guard Youth Challenge Academy program in New York.
“I liked to play handball instead of going to class in high school,” said Reyes, who dropped out of high school.
Another friend of his attended the program and encouraged him to go through it. Through Youth Challenge, Reyes earned a GED diploma and learned about military discipline. After completing the program, he enlisted in the Army.
He has served two tours in Iraq and will be at ASU until February.
Initially, he only planned to be in the Army for four years. He stayed in because he felt he was a “natural” to the military. One of Reyes’ next goals is to achieve the rank of master sergeant.
Working with cadets is different than working with active-duty soldiers, he said. He’s training a different group of people, who are balancing family and school, and some who could eventually go on to assume high leadership roles in the Army.
“At the end of the day, it really makes me think, ‘I’m training the future generals,’ ” he said. “Not all will be, but I’m doing something that will last for a long time after I’ve retired. I definitely enjoy that.”
Also during his week in Fort Knox, Reyes was named to the prestigious Audie Murphy Club. He will return to Kentucky over Memorial Day weekend for the induction ceremony. As the Cadet Command NCO of the Year, he will compete at the Training and Doctrine Command level at Fort Eustis, Va., this summer.